U.S. imposes tariffs on Chinese solar panels – complains they subsidize foreign competitors

You have read the headline correctly. The Obama administration’s Commerce Department has imposed a tariff on Chinese solar panels imported from China. The administration complains the Chinese government has subsidized their own solar manufactures and unfairly put US manufactures at a disadvantage.

So in other words it’s perfectly fine for the United States government to subsidized solar companies like Solyndra and First Solar, to the tune of hundreds of millions, but if the Chinese do it … it’s not fair!

The Commerce Department said Tuesday it is imposing new import duties on solar panels made in China because of what it said were unfair government subsidies, but stopped well short of recommending the steep penalties sought by U.S. competitors.

The department said it has found on a preliminary basis that Chinese solar-panel makers have received government subsidies of 2.9 percent to 4.73 percent.

Therefore, the department said, tariffs in the same proportions will be charged on Chinese panels imported into the U.S., depending on which company makes them.

So, what has been the reaction of local solar manufactures?

“Today’s announcement affirms what U.S. manufacturers have long known: Chinese manufacturers have received unfair … subsidies,” Steve Ostrenga, CEO of Helios Solar Works in Milwaukee, Wis., said in a statement.

I’m sorry Mr. Ostrenga … did you need to clear your throat before you mentioned the word “subsidies?” It’s possible Helios Solar Works may have not received one dime in subsidies from the federal government, but it’s certain his customers purchased solar energy panels with support from the federal government in the form of tax breaks.

The federal government has a website listing tax credits, rebates and savings for all types of equipment including stuff like solar water heaters, solar space heating and solar pool water heating just to name a few.

There is a federal tax credit in place that will cover 30 percent of the cost of a solar energy system, up to $500 per .5 KW of power capacity. The credit expires Dec. 31, 2016 … so you have some time. Is the Obama administration really going to claim they have not been subsidizing this industry?

What the Obama administration did here is increase the cost of solar panels for consumers, making an already difficult return-on-investment decision even more hard to justify. Congratulations.

For another example of U.S. government subsidies for the U.S. solar energy industry, follow President Obama today to Nevada, where he’ll be visiting a solar farm that has five full-time employees, and received “$42 million in federal-government tax credits and $12 million in tax-rebate commitments from the state of Nevada.”

Update: Thanks to Ed Morrissey for the link, we were working on our posts at the same time. Ed calls …

…for a Captain Louis Renault award, which is most propitious timing, as movie theaters across the country will show Casablanca tonight for a one-time-only event.

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. Tim-in-Alabama on March 21, 2012 at 9:21 am

    It appears the Chinese haven’t made the appropriate campaign contributions as they did during the Bill and Hillary administration.

  2. Dimsdale on March 21, 2012 at 10:24 am

    So our subsidies are good, and theirs are bad?? Nice.? Hypocrisy be thy name….

  3. Lynn on March 21, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I’m always drawn to the video. How funny a Captain Louis Renault award. Ok it fits this hypocritical act, but how many others done by this administration? It would be a full time job, to unearth them all.

  4. RoBrDona on March 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I will chuckle as I fly on yet another American owned Airbus jet.

  5. ricbee on March 21, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    This just makes it more obvious that Obama & his administration have no idea what they are doing or how to do it.


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